In an order dated, June 22, 2012, USDJ Steven D. Merryday (Tampa, FL) carefully considered counsel's motion to suspend trial. The lawyer's client, Jerry Alan Bottorff, the court noted, "stands accused of murder-for-hire, conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, and a firearm offense." Earlier, the parties had requested a special setting for the trial to begin.
As the basis for his application, counsel stated in his papers:
Undersigned counsel, a perennial contestant in the Ernest Hemingway Look-alike Contest, is scheduled to appear as a semi-finalist at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida at 6:30 P.M. on Friday, July 20, 2012.
In order to be able to be in Key West at the appointed hour, undersigned counsel has planned to depart St. Petersburg after the trial recesses on Thursday, July 19, 2012, and drive toward Key West[,] arriving on July 20, 2012.
Undersigned counsel has secured a block of six rooms to accommodate family, friends, and fans and has had to pay non-refundable deposits.
Demonstrating both a sense of humor and a keen appreciation for literature, the court observed:
Between a murder-for-hire trial and an annual look-alike contest, surely Hemingway, a perfervid admirer of “grace under pressure,” would choose the trial.
At his most robust, Hemingway exemplified the intrepid defense lawyer:
He works like hell, and through it. . . . He has the most profound bravery. . . . He has had pain and the kind of poverty that you don’t believe[;] he has had about eight times the normal allotment of responsibilities. And he has never once compromised. He has never turned off on an easier path than the one he staked himself. It takes courage.
Dorothy Parker, The Artist’s Reward, THE NEW YORKER, Nov. 30, 1929, at 28-30 (describing Hemingway). Perhaps a lawyer who evokes Hemingway can resist relaxing frolic in favor of solemn duty.
Or, at least, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
The court's ruling on the motion? "Best of luck to counsel in next year’s contest."